Posts Tagged With: economic impact

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: 21c Museum Hotel

From a personal perspective, the 21c Museum Hotel is one of my favorite arts-related venues to visit. From its interactive artworks that engage the visitor with the work, to its cutting-edge gallery exhibits that address the hottest topics of the day, every step taken on a visit through the 21c is compellingly art-driven. And, as you’ll read in my interview with 21c co-founder Steve Wilson, that was the intent from the start.

Pairing the desire to renovate existing structures in Louisville for a hotel property while making contemporary art a part of more peoples’ daily lives, philanthropists and contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson set out on a journey to create the 21c Museum Hotel.

Much more than just a place to spend the night, 21c is an innovative union of genuine Southern hospitality, thoughtful design, and culinary creativity — all anchored by world-class contemporary art by today’s emerging and internationally acclaimed artists (hence the name, paying homage to the 21st century).



21c Museum Hotel, Business Award

Kentucky Arts Council: What role do the arts, artists and artwork play in the 21c business model?

Steve Wilson: As I have said many times, we are first an art experience and second a hotel. Our architects understand that we design our spaces to better exhibit art, and we commission artists to collaborate with the architects to come up with unique elements that our guests have come to love and look forward to experiencing.

We say that the art brings people in, but the hospitality brings them back. It’s a simple, yet surprisingly unique model.

KAC: What role has the 21c played in creative placemaking as a community development tool in Louisville?

SW: I think this is a question that might better be asked of the mayor or some of the Convention and Visitors Bureau staff, but we are very proud of what we have done for the community.

21c has played an important role in the revitalization of our downtown, proving that art can be an economic driver. Four empty buildings at the corner of 7th and Main Street have turned out to be a cultural center with programming provided free and 24 hours a day. The foot traffic on our block is markedly increased and our parking garage is always full. Obviously, these two simple facts translate into more business for all our neighbors. Our red penguin has been adopted as an icon for the city as it appears in tourism and downtown development advertising, and city officials make reference to our success to visitors and potential prospects. Art invigorates, it stimulates and it illustrates the genesis of the creative mind. All these feelings, emotions or experiences enhance and energize the business community and draws more customers and clients to downtown.

We have 180 employees in Louisville alone, and those are all new jobs and new taxes being generated.

KAC: How has the community responded to the 21c since it opened, and were you surprised in any way to that response?

SW: Since the first day we opened seven years ago, we have been overwhelmed and humbled by our success. The readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine have voted 21c Louisville the No. 1 Hotel in the U.S. twice. This tells me that people are responding to our efforts and have embraced the experience of 21c. We never expected to be opening more than one property, but many people from lots of different cities have encouraged us to come to their hometowns and do this all over again. Our hotels compete against some of the best brands in the best cities in the U.S. and still come out on top. It’s truly inspiring to see that kind of reaction to contemporary art.

KAC: How important is community support of the museum-hotel, and why is that support important?

SW: Community support is the lifeblood of 21c! What makes 21c so unique as a hotel is that our properties are in many ways as much for local residents as they are for travelers. We offer artist lectures, yoga with art, film nights, poetry readings and other live performances. And most importantly, we collaborate with arts organizations around Louisville to help enrich the cultural life of the city.

KAC: Why do you feel it is important to exhibit contemporary art, specifically?

SW: Contemporary artists are usually dealing with the issues with which we as a society are struggling. This is our way of allowing people to talk about subjects that may be uncomfortable or to laugh together at a work that they find comical. It’s about shared experience. All art was at some time contemporary. Artists are often also history documentarians.

KAC: In its role as an art museum, what experiences and opportunities does the 21c provide to visitors they won’t find elsewhere, especially in Kentucky?

SW: Who can say what a person will experience or remember from a visit to a 21c? I know that photography can take you around the world while standing in one spot … painting can take you deep into rich color and often create a mood or emotion with color alone … video can elicit anger, awe, compassion and even tears.

One of our artist friends said that art is only the paper or paint or wood with which an object is made. The reaction to the work by people who are observing, be it elevating or even embarrassing, is really coming from within the person. So, we like to provoke and stand back and let the public determine what they choose to take away.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Other | Tags: , , , , , ,

My three big questions for gallery and shop owners selling Kentucky crafts

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As we approach American Craft Week, Oct. 4 – 13, 2013, I begin to think about marketing craft in Kentucky and realize there are three groups that are important players in the industry — the artists, the retailers and the customers. Often times, there is a direct relationship between the artist and customer, but it is the craft retailer that reaches enough customers to make the industry sustainable.

I’ve interviewed three Kentucky Crafted Retailers who are most actively participating in American Craft Week with three big questions:

1. Why do you sell craft?

2. What are some of your customers’ favorite Kentucky Crafted items?

3. What does being a Kentucky Crafted Retailer mean to you?

Gift Shoppe on Main

Amy and Mike Martino promote both local and national artisans at the Gift Shoppe on Main in Brookville, Ind. Whether it is a gift for you or someone else, they offer the area’s finest selection of handcrafted American-made artisan gifts including pottery, glass, copper, art, jewelry, handbags, scarves, smocking, weaving, cedar chests, mixed media, quilting, wood, baskets, gourds, candles, soap, food, Christmas ornaments and more.

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Mike and Amy Martino

Here are their answers to my three big questions.

1. The love for the arts was passed down to us from family members who were quilters, seamstresses and musicians. To honor our heritage,  we wanted to have an outlet where we could promote the arts to the public to make them aware of the talents that are associated with finer craft making. We are also very interested in made in America and home-based businesses. Our gallery has made it possible for us to currently support more than 100 American artisans, most of which have a home-based business.

2. Customers’ favorite artisans are Nora Swanson Jewelry, Rachel Savane Jewelry, Richard Kolb Yardbirds, Luann Vermillion Wildflowers, Dan Neil Barnes Glass and Robert Ellis Woodworking.

3. Being a Kentucky Crafted Retailer gives us the ability to promote a high standard of craftsmanship that we want to offer in our gallery.

Zig Zag Gallery

Kim Megginson and her husband started out as potters and sold work at a number of craft fairs before taking over ownership of Zig Zag Gallery near Dayton, Ohio. At Zig Zag Gallery, Kim promotes the work of small studio American artists along with Pandora jewelry, StoryPeople, Naot shoes and Fair Trade items.

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Kim Megginson

Here’s what she had to say in response to the questions:

1. With our backgrounds and life experiences we have had the opportunity to know and work with many artists. These individuals and their beautifully handcrafted work have brought tremendous joy to our lives.  To be given the privilege of making a living working with these talented people is truly very special.

2. Many of our customers come in looking for local work, and having Kentucky Crafted artists certainly fills that need.  A few of their favorite artists are:

  • Dyesigns by Pamela – Customers love the beautiful color palette of her scarves.
  • Kentucky Springs –  We have sold Kyle Ellison’s salad tongs for probably 20 years! It’s the best hostess gift ever.
  • Yardbirds – They are fun, whimsical and just a little wacky…a definite great fit for ZIG ZAG
  • Terra Cottage – People love his “reading glasses.”

We always tend to gravitate to things with a little bit (or a lot) of humor.

3. While the primary focus of our gallery is the work of small studio American artists, we especially enjoy featuring regional work. Working with the Kentucky Crafted program has helped us discover more of these regional artists. I felt that becoming a Kentucky Crafted Retailer was important for a couple of reasons. I have great admiration for the support that the Kentucky Arts Council offers to Kentucky artists and hope that becoming a Kentucky Crafted Retailer helps in some small way to support this program. In addition, it creates another avenue to promote the artists working with the Kentucky Arts Council.

Completely Kentucky

Ann Wingrove, owner of Completely Kentucky in Frankfort, Ky., is proud to offer the work of more than 650 of Kentucky’s best artisans. She buys directly from small family businesses, many of whom follow generations of family traditions in their craft.

Here’s Ann’s take on the three big questions:

1. I worked as a consultant for a number of years, traveling all over the country. No matter where I was, I always looked for local art to bring back. At the same time I was also involved in downtown revitalization through the Main Street Program. I decided I should put my time and money where my mouth was and open a downtown business.  Choosing to sell only fine crafts made in Kentucky made sense.  I wanted to offer to other business travelers, locals and visitors what I looked for when I traveled — a wide selection of fine craft and locally made products. Having the Kentucky Crafted Program helped tremendously.  Kentucky has so many talented craft artists and a tradition of creativity that makes me proud every day I walk in my store.

2. That’s difficult to answer.  We offer all media and price ranges at Completely Kentucky.  I think it is essential for customers to realize the range of hand-crafted work that is available, and that not everything is expensive. That said, we do have several categories that are consistently good sellers. Pottery is always popular.  People love to have a handcrafted mug, or a special serving dish. Jewelry is also in great demand. As a jeweler once said, “You may use the same casserole dish for years, but a woman can never have too many earrings!” We have seen a growing demand for larger pieces, too. Furniture, sculpture and outdoor art are all strong categories for us. Functional wooden items, boxes, spoons and pens make great gifts.  We keep a holiday section stocked all year as many people love to buy an ornament when they travel.

3. Kentucky Crafted Retailers have deliberately chosen to support local suppliers. That means we don’t have large profit margins (like retailers that sell imported items). We can’t purchase in bulk and we often have to wait a long time for delivery. But, we also know exactly who makes the work we sell, we know where our money goes, and we get to sell wonderful, beautiful, meaningful items to our customers. We thank each customer by telling them that every purchase directly supports more than 650 Kentucky family businesses. How cool is that? I know that Completely Kentucky is supporting our local and state economy.  I know that local communities throughout the state are benefiting from the income our artists bring in. It’s a great feeling to support family businesses.

Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Buy local, buy unique, buy art

Challenge yourself this holiday season to buy at least one gift from a Kentucky artist. Why? There are certainly many reasons to support your creative neighbors. Here are just a few thoughts.

1. Strengthen the local economy

2. Encourage thriving, distinct communities

3. Invest in your community

4. Make better use of your tax dollars

When you buy local, more of your money stays in your community, whether you define community as your town, your region or your state. Purchasing a product from a corporation headquartered thousands of miles away means little of your money stays in the community. Should you even care?

Well, yes. Local taxes support local services, like your fire department, public library, police station and public schools. Small business owners and their employees (who are usually local people) benefit from increased revenue, increasing their purchasing power.

Small, local businesses also invest in their communities, sponsoring activities and events that promote community spirit, pride and involvement. These events — festivals, gallery hops, youth sports teams, concerts — create a wonderful and desirable atmosphere. Don’t think job-creating companies fail to notice great quality of life. As John Petterson, senior vice president of operations and manufacturing, told the Lexington Herald-Leader in 2010 on Tiffany & Co.’s decision to open a manufacturing facility in Lexington, Ky.:

“I want to be employing people in areas where I think they are going to have a great quality of life,” Petterson said, noting the city’s arts, history and sports activities. “That’s important to us at Tiffany.” [site]

Where to start?

First, check out the fantastic artists and musicians listed in the Kentucky Arts Council’s directories: Kentucky Crafted, Architectural Artist Directory and Performing Arts Directory.

Peek into an open studio, gallery or showroom

Visit one of the special artist events happening across Kentucky in November and December. You can find a list of activities and participating Kentucky Crafted and Architectural artists here. We’ve also put together a list of Kentucky Crafted retailers that sell a wide variety of Kentucky-made merchandise. Several retailers are hosting special events and promotions throughout the holiday season.

Put a name with a purchase

Take a tip from Arts Marketing Director Ed Lawrence in “Double Your Pleasure” and spend a pleasant weekend afternoon meandering the countryside, stopping at a few studios and putting a face and name with a purchase.

Look at the Creative Commonwealth archives

We love promoting Kentucky artists and their excellent work. You can find several great posts featuring gift recommendations on the Creative Commonwealth blog. Here are a few of my favorites:

Give a gift from Kentucky: good food deserves better!

Give a gift from Kentucky: six ways to black(out) Friday

Give a gift from Kentucky: no need for a chemistry textbook with these skincare products

Good food still deserves better!

Rings to Riches

Don’t forget the holiday gift guide

Kentucky Monthly magazine just released an online holiday gift guide  featuring many Kentucky Crafted artists and retailers.

I’m sure you’ll find a one-of-a-kind present that’ll knock the socks off the person you’re buying for. Feel free to post your best finds on our Facebook page . We’d love to hear from you. Happy holidays, everyone.

 

Heidi Caudill, administrative associate 

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Other | Tags: , , , , , ,

My $1,000 questions

My transition this year from communications director to arts marketing director at the Kentucky Arts Council collided with Kentucky Crafted: The Market, the signature event of the Kentucky Crafted program.

In the course of my 18-year career at the arts council, I have heard artists’ refrains about two issues that gave me pause. The first: “The Kentucky Crafted Program is not for me. I make one-of-a-kind, high-end artwork.” The second, “I don’t want to do wholesale; there’s not enough business to warrant it.” I’ve heard these statements so many times, I began to think they were true. But in my heart of hearts, I didn’t believe it, so I asked recent exhibitors at The Market the $1,000 questions.

 

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My first question was, “Did you sell any one item for over $1,000 on retail days? Due to the proprietary interests of the artists, I can’t divulge who sold what to whom, but the sales were impressive. The highest priced item sold at The Market was a piece of furniture for $10,000. Although there were very few artists who created work at retail prices of $1,000 or more, those that did, sold. Among the high ticket sales were furniture, wood carvings, jewelry, paintings and quilts. Other price tags of items sold were $4,500, $2,800, $2,500, $2,000, $1,300, several at $1,000 and a squeaker at $998.

With this kind of response, I’m ready to dispel the myth and recruit more artists into the program who create one-of-a-kind work.

I chose the second question to get a feeling for how much wholesale activity goes on at Kentucky Crafted: The Market. The wholesale days (especially sales to out-of-state buyers) create what economists call economic impact. Government programs are easy to justify when they create greater economic impact than their cost. So my second $1,000 question was, “Did you write any wholesale orders for over $1,000? If so, what was your highest single order?

Of the 50 exhibitors who responded, exactly half of them reported having written at least one order for $1,000, with many having multiple orders of over $1,000. Most of the orders were in the $1,000 – $1,500 range, with three orders close to or a little above $2,500. Sizeable wholesale orders were not as brisk as I had hoped to see, but I have a feeling when we get the formal sales reports in from exhibitors, we will see a very strong wholesale showing.

It seems that the time is right for artists involved with the Kentucky Crafted Program to start thinking bigger.

Big ticket items do sell at Kentucky Crafted: The Market. Big orders can be written at the Market. Kentucky Crafted 2013 will grow bigger in size and geographical market reach as long as Kentucky’s artists continue to focus on quality craftsmanship and artistic excellence, the foundation of the Kentucky Crafted brand.

Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , ,

The squeaky wheel gets the grease

We all have an opinion about what the government should be doing. We’re willing to share those opinions in line at the grocery store, while getting a hair cut, with people who always disagree with us and with bored family members. But how often are we willing to share those opinions when they actually matter and will be taken into consideration?

People who are passionate about the economic impact of the arts have a rare opportunity in the next few weeks. You can share your opinions with someone who will actually listen! Kentucky officials have hired the Arkansas consulting firm Boyette Strategic Advisors to determine how the Commonwealth can attract businesses and jobs using existing assets. The plan called “Kentucky’s Unbridled Future,” is detailed on Boyette Strategic Advisors website.

The best part of this plan is that you can provide your input by taking an online survey or attending one of the upcoming statewide economic development visioning meetings. Click the schedule below to find a meeting in your area:

Find a meeting near you

Businesses are attracted to communities with vibrant arts and cultural scenes. Supporting our existing arts infrastructure (a great Kentucky asset) is a way to lure businesses. If one of these meetings is coming to your area, it’s time for you to get out and be the “squeaky wheel” so the arts in Kentucky get the proper “grease.”

For facts and resources to take to your public meeting, contact kyarts@ky.gov or call 502-564-3757.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director (with some help from Dan Strauss, senior program analyst)

Hear this blog

Squeaky Wheel


Categories: Arts Advocacy, Arts Organizations | Tags: , , ,

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